Though he was a top hospital executive, Larry Kryzaniak always had an open-door policy. Access to his office was so unfettered that even patients dropped by to talk with him, said daughter Amy Block, who thought that was “a little crazy.”
Kryzaniak, 64, of Plymouth, who retired as the chief financial officer of Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) on Dec. 31, died two weeks later on Jan. 16 of a heart attack. He had just settled into a condo in Clearwater Beach, Fla., near the ocean he loved.
Colleagues said he was passionate about HCMC’s mission of providing quality medical care for all and kept the hospital on sound financial footing so it could fulfill that mission. “He wanted to make sure everyone got what they needed, even if they didn’t have health insurance or money,” said Block of Blaine.
Kryzaniak was born in Oshkosh, Wis., and grew up with four sisters. He was smart, athletic and a Boy Scout as a kid, said his wife, Linda.
He attended Monmouth College in Illinois and eventually took a job as CEO of a hospital in Burlington, Wis. There he met Linda, who stocked supplies at the hospital among other duties. Though it was “love at first sight,” the two initially kept their relationship under wraps, she said.
“I was afraid to date him because of who he was, his title,” she said. After six months, the pair — who each had a daughter — married. They had a third child, Cammy, and were married 33 years.
Block remembers meeting her new stepfather as he presented her with her first Barbie doll. “No matter what kind of trouble I gave him, he kept coming back,” she said.
Block and her mother sometimes dragged Kryzaniak to country music concerts, including a Garth Brooks show he attended in a suit and tie, having come straight from work, Block said.
Kryzaniak listened to his daughters’ troubles and pointed the girls in the right direction without judging them, according to Block and Cammy Konop of Albertville, Minn.
Konop said her father helped her with homework as a kid and with her insurance license as an adult. When she didn’t do well on a practice exam and called him crying, he patiently helped her study for hours.
Kryzaniak also offered his guidance in the working world, said David Albright, HCMC’s vice president of finance. “Larry was a great mentor for people within finance,” he said. “He had a calm about him at all times.”
Kryzaniak was collaborative and good at empowering a team of people, Albright said, and remained upbeat through a series of transitions as a previous employer, Health Central, eventually became Allina.
When he arrived at HCMC in 2004, Kryzaniak transformed the hospital’s financial systems, said Dr. Jon Pryor, CEO of HCMC, and helped shift it from a county department to a public subsidiary corporation.
Kryzaniak was proud to serve on several boards, including Planned Parenthood and ClearWay. He planned to remain involved in nonprofit groups and do some consulting work after a short hiatus, Pryor said.
“I’m going to miss his smiling face,” Pryor said.
Family members were grateful that Kryzaniak got to meet his youngest grandson, Maclin, born in late December. Pryor noted that Kryzaniak’s beloved Green Bay Packers won on the day before he died.
Besides his wife, Block and Konop, Kryzaniak is survived by daughter Jaimie Meyers, of Victoria; father Anthony of Rockford, Ill.; sisters Kris Shipton of Morris, Minn., Kathy Berschneider of Rockford, Judy Siefert of Onalaska, Wis., and Helen Duncum of Rogers, Ark., and five grandchildren. Services have been held.